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Warm weather means it's a go-do-it weekend

Published: Friday, March 23 2012 7:29 p.m. MDT

Joel Pickelner waters flowers at Western Gardens in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 23, 2012.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Warm weather arrived in Utah this week along with the first day of spring. That means it's a go-do-it weekend for those ready to begin work in the garden, head to the park or perhaps head to City Creek to check out the new mall.

Out at Liberty Park Friday, Jenny Morley and her husband were enjoying their first picnic of the spring with their Labrador Moki.

"He's just a puppy," she said. "He's never been to Liberty Park before, so we decided to come have lunch and let him explore the park." 

Nearby, 5-month-old Clara Berger was basking in her first spring, in view of budding trees, grass returning to color and with a mom eager to enjoy the change in weather.

"(I) love the warmth and the sun and finally (being able) to take the kids out and play," Kari Berger said.

But spring is a very fickle friend in Utah, so people get out to play whenever they can and proceed with caution in the garden.

“Our average high in mid-March is in the low to mid-50s,” KSL TV meteorologist Lynae Miyer said. But this year temperatures have been on a roller-coaster ride, with highs this month ranging from 37 to 71 degrees.

With the temperature changing so much, people may hesitate to work on their garden, but there are things they can begin to do, the experts said.

Western Garden Centers Manager and Consultant Ben Hall has three tips for gardening in early spring:

• Trees and shrubs can be planted and withstand daily temperature changes. “The ground is going to insulate any roots, so if it gets cold the roots are still growing,” he said.

• Cool season plants like pansies and primrose, are good choices this weekend. In the vegetable garden, people can plant lettuce, spinach, carrots, turnips and beets. "You can get snow on top of all of this stuff and it'll do fine," he said."

• The third weekend option is to fertilize the lawn. “You want to use an early fertilizer," he said, which controls weeds and noxious grasses by forming a barrier in the soil. The  nitrogen will soak in when the weather changes again.

“Typically in Utah, it will snow in April, and it will snow in May,” he said. But early season gardeners are undaunted.

The weekend forecast calls for sun Saturday with temperatures in the low 70s. Expect winds from the south at 10 to 20 mph. Windier Sunday with partly cloudy skies and  winds from 20 to 40 mph. Cooler temperatures on Monday with a storm system bring a 30 percent chance of showers along the Wasatch front, with temperatures in the low 60s.

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com

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